Did you know that free public school in Italy starts when kids are three? It's pretty cool. Scuola Materna. Kids from 3-6 years can go from about 9-3 and you can expand those hours if you want up to 7-5, also for free. Punkette's school happens to be in a convent, but it's public, but one of her teachers is a nun... church and state are far from separate here.
At the beginning I had a problem with the nun, but I recognized that it was just me and had nothing to do with the nun. I was just annoyed that she got put in the one class of the three they have that had a nun teaching. But I stuffed my issues away and encouraged my daughter to just be herself and don't pay any attention to the nun. Well, maybe not in so many words.
Punkette is quite a determined kid, so I wasn't too worried about her. They worried a lot about her and the fact that she was so quiet (she didn't know the language). I told them not to worry. They freaked out that she didn't wear undershirts and sweaters. I told them she is hot. They once put her in wool tights, and I think the poor kid must have been holding her breath because she exploded when I picked her up that day. Happened also once when they tucked in her shirt. Punkette complained a lot about not being able to do things herself. Last year she came home very upset that she was not allowed to make the hair in the picture she was coloring purple. They told her purple is not a color for hair. Also, they make her eat salad. This sounds barbaric to most US parents. But yes, they literally will stick the food into their mouths. I think this happened to Punkette once, so now she just eats it. When I ask her what she ate for lunch on any given day her reply is usually, "I didn't like it, but I ate it."
She's been going there for over a year now. Her creativity is creeping back into her art work at school. They seem to approve. She is also now sometimes referred to as "sorrella blah blah" because she talks so much. She is a friendly, focused kid and they're starting to see that and like that about her. They also seem to have given up on badgering me about dressing Punkette in warmer clothes and the fact that we're perpetually late.
Moral of the story? I suppose sometimes it's not so bad to tolerate and adjust to a new way of doing things. I guess that's what I signed up for by moving abroad.